Adventures in Small-Press Publishing, Part III: Book Construction and Release

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Technically my collection of short stories has already been released (it’s been up on Amazon for a week or two), but I’ve been deeply involved in the redesign of the website of the company that published it, and now that the site is live, in my mind it’s official: The Trouble With Eating Clouds is ready and available and looking for a few good readers. I’m pleased with the book overall, and especially happy with the front and back covers as designed by graphic artist extraordinaire, Dawn Mitchell (www.G4GInteractive.com – thanks, Dawn!).

The reason I wanted to wait for completion of the Spotlight website (www.spotlight-publishing.com) before announcing the release of my short story collection is that although the book was/is available on Amazon.com and BN.com, if a small publisher is going to support a writer, I think the writer ought to do what he or she can to support the publisher, too. That’s why I’m suggesting that if you’re thinking about buying the book, please consider buying it at the publisher’s site. I make exactly the same money no matter where you buy it: online or if you ask your local store to order it or if you buy it from Spotlight. However, buying direct from a small publisher makes a big difference to their bottom line. Plus, Spotlight only charges 99 cents for shipping, so it will actually cost you less from them than from Amazon. Spotlight is also running a promotion throughout the month of July and they’re sending autographed copies for the price of regular ones (they usually charge more for autographed copies), so if the deposit of .043 micrograms on ink in the shape of my name has any appeal to you, this is your big chance.  😉

I talked last week about the networking that was involved in the book coming to publication (the networking that was involved in all of my books’ publications), so what I’d like to talk about today is the process by which the stories were selected. The Trouble With Eating Clouds only includes about half of the short stories I’ve had published over the past seven years, so what was the logic (stop giggling David, even I use logic every now and then…) behind what was included and what was not?

There were several thoughts running through my mind while putting this book together, but there were two main ones. First, I wanted this book to be a little more reader/family friendly than my novel was. I don’t use graphic images/scenes, violence, or coarse language casually, but the story in Dreaming Creek required a certain amount of all of that, and if it ever gets made into a movie, it will definitely be an R-rated movie. So all of the stories in The Trouble With Eating Clouds had to be the kind that didn’t require any parental oversight or screening (not that this is a children’s book, by any means).

Secondly, I really wanted this collection to represent the fun it’s possible to have when writing. When I’m at my very best, when I’m writing a story for no other reason that something has grabbed my mind’s attention and wants to come spilling out of my fingers and onto the page, the entire process is a pleasure. But when I’m writing to someone else’s theme, or someone else’s idea of what constitutes “good” fiction, it becomes a ponderous process that’s about as much fun as dragging a wooly mammoth up from the bottom of one of Le Brea’s infamous tar pits. That doesn’t mean the fun stories are easy to write—far from it, most of the time—but even when it’s challenging, there are some stories that are just a pleasure to write. Those are the stories I wanted in this book.

The stories are also arranged in chronological order (as best I could recall) according to when the were written. Years ago I read a collection of short stories by Ursula LeGuin where she talked about “arranging them in the order in which they were written, so that the development of the artist becomes part of the interest in the book.” Or at least words to that effect, the exact quote is in my book (and hers).  The term ‘artist’ is never one I’ve been comfortable applying to myself, so call me whatever you like, but I do think there’s something to be said for being able to watch a writer grow and develop over the course of many years and many stories.

In the interest of full disclosure since this is a site devoted largely to writing fantasy, most of these stories read more like an episode of the Twilight Zone than The Lord of the Rings. It’s what I grew up loving, so it’s a lot of what I ended up writing. There are also a few Alfred Hitchcock-type mysteries, a historical piece set in Africa in the 1930’s that I’ve always been proud of, and all of the Dedd & Gohn paranormal-investigator comics I did with my friend Tom Barker before he had to quit the project. Those are a lot of fun to have all in one place, but then that’s one of the central themes of the book—have fun!—so it wouldn’t have been in the book otherwise. It’s even got an introduction by one of my bestest buds in the business, Alethea Kontis. She knows way too much about me personally and she spilled 90% of it in her intro (I paid good money to keep the other 10% out).

So there it is: The Trouble With Eating Clouds: A Collection of Mysteries, Magic, and Madness in all of its glory. Well, not all of its glory, but as much glory as I could cram into a single blog post. So remember, you can order it on Amazon and B&N, but supporting Spotlight is better for the little guy and cheaper for you.

Tune in tomorrow (yes, I’m here two days in a row. You can also catch me next week The Improv, Tuesday and Wednesday, with shows at 8 and 11:30. Don’t forget to tip your waitress, she works hard for the money)…

…but I digress (as usual)… Let’s try this again…

Tune in tomorrow for Adventures in Small-Press Publishing, Part IV: A Negative Times A Negative Equals A Positive, where I expand from The Close-Up look at my own book, to the Big Picture view of Spotlight as a whole, and my new role there as Acquisitions Editor.

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9 comments to Adventures in Small-Press Publishing, Part III: Book Construction and Release

  • Congrats on the “official” release! Looks like a well-thought out collection. Best of luck with it.

  • Edmund, I am loving this small press / networking set of posts. Working with a small press is very different from (and sometimes a lot harder than) working with a larger press, but I adore the input I get to have with the projects, the give and take of design and PR that one gets with a small press.

    I thought this line was particularly important in that relationhip:

    >>That’s why I’m suggesting that if you’re thinking about buying the book, please consider buying it at the publisher’s site. I make exactly the same money no matter where you buy it: online or if you ask your local store to order it or if you buy it from Spotlight. However, buying direct from a small publisher makes a big difference to their bottom line.>>

    Small presses really hope a book sells (from anywhere any book distributor) but that *buy from the pub* is espccially important. Most writers don’t realize that distributors (Amazon, B&N) usually make a bigger percentage on sales than the publisher does. Yeah. Bigger. Isn’t that sad?

  • Once again, we’re getting an invaluable peak behind the scenes.

    Congrats, Edmund! I really like your criteria for including stories in this collection and I’m also a fan of chronological order to see a writer’s development.

    I had no idea distributors get a bigger cut than publishers. It seems backward to me, but I honestly never thought about it to begin with but I’ll certainly remember it now.

  • pepperthorn

    Is there going to be an ebook? I just looked it up on Amazon and didn’t see one. (I did notice that they only have 1 left in stock. Sounds like good news for your sales. Hooray!)

  • Stuart–Thanks. I’m sure it will be a million-copy best seller by lunch time tomorrow! 😉

    Faith–There are so many people who take a bite out of every book sold, but none bigger than the distributors. I’ve know several people who’ve worked for Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor (the two biggest distributors, for those of you not familiar with them) and they consistently told me that when small publishers and small magazines started distributing to the book stores, they need to make sure they have enough cash to remain solvent for at least year, because it would probably be that long before money started flowing to them from the distributors. Scary, scary stuff.

    ekcarmel–I’ve always loved the behind-the-scenes stuff, no matter what the subject matter; I hope this is useful.

    pepper–There will be an e-book, but not for a few weeks. I’m doing that version myself and have been swamped with so many other things that it’s taking longer than expected (what doesn’t these days…?).

  • Good luck with the collection Edmund.

    When I started researching the behind the scenes stuff for my own career/peace of mind I was appalled by the minuscule percentage of the money I paid to buy a book that actually arrived in the authors pocket, and the equally appalling length of time it took to get into the authors pocket.

    With the passage of time I’ve come to understand that ‘that’s the way it’s done, so shut up and write.’

    But there’s a part of me that says. “That’s not the way it has to be.” So I made a deal with myself that for a print book I will always try to buy from the author first, from their publisher (If they aren’t self-publishing or e-book)second, and from a distributor last if that’s the only way I can get the book.

    I figure that my few dollars aren’t going to make much of a dent to the distributor either way but as a writer I know just how important it is for my few dollars to get to the author as quickly as is womanly possible

  • Many thanks, widdershins. Wise and much appreciated words.

  • Congratulations on the release, Ed. I wish you every success with it, and will blog about it at my sites in the next day or two. Thanks for this look at the process. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

  • Thanks, David. Very logical of you. 😉